Posts are sneaky buggers – 655!!!!

A blogger friend of mine – Sirena Tales – reported doing her 500th post. Wow. I was just amazed. And me being me, decided to check how many posts I have done as.of.today – 655! Posts fly when you are having fun. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!!!

THANK YOU Every one of you, thank you. Your comments, sharing, kindness has been an inspiration to me. Truly. And I know there are some of you muttering about all the poetry I’ve been posting. Don’t worry, I’ll start posting other things – again. Along with the poetry.

You see, I wrote my first classic haiku when I was six. I wrote poetry all through high school and university. I wrote poetry afterwards…and then – stopped. I began writing poetry again soon after I left the hospital after surgery for cancer. And while the surgery, anesthesia, meds took away my taste for seafood, it gifted me back the inspiration to again write poetry. I hope I don’t write any stuffy, twisted, complicated stuff. I hope I write something that will touch you as much as my prose has done in the past. I’m a simple person and so enjoy life. Being a cancer survivor does that to you.

My love of falling snow, blue skies, cherry blossoms, still nights, falling stars, being in love – simple things that bring such joy. I want to share those with you. Poetry seems to be the best way to do that, sometimes.

Don’t worry though, the recipes, the stories, the smart aleck Southern woman will be once again sharing this blog with the poetic Southern woman.  BTW – this post makes 656 – woo hoo!!

Again my friends, THANK YOU. God bless you everyone.

View of Fuji - Hokusai

View of Fuji – Hokusai

Wordless Wednesday – a day late! Joyous Angel

copyright Kanzensakura

copyright Kanzensakura

This was made for me by a friend, from an oyster shell she found at Nags Head, NC. It was a gift of great kindness and joy during a dark bit of time this Christmas. I hope Joyous Angel makes you smile, as she does me. I have her hanging on my kitchen door to bless this house and its inhabitants and all who enter with the true spirit of kindness and giving.

Peace, Joy, Love….yes Virginia, they do exist

With all going on in the world today, it is so easy to lose hope, to forget there is more to life than bad news, mayhem, evil…

But Love was born many years ago night in Bethlehem. I’m not here to debate your theological questions or comments, I am here simply to share my hope, my love, my peace. It all has to begin inside of us. And once those seeds are planted, they need to be nurtured, to be harvested, to be share. TO. BE. SHARED.

So regardless of what you do or do not believe, at least believe that these things still exist and if they only exist in the heart of one person, they still exist. That light will never be extinguished.

So…Joy to you my Blogosphere Family. Peace be unto you. Love I share with you.

Merry Christmas. Blessings to you all. And please, after you hug those blessings close to you, turn around and give them to someone else.

Be the peace. Be the hope. Be the love. And Joy….JOY TO THE WORLD! God knows, we all need it. Just as He knew those years ago when His Son was born to live among us. To speak our language and to feel our fears and to know just how scary the world can be. But He was the hope, the love, the peace, the love. Now it’s your turn. Again I say, Be the hope. Be the love. Be the peace.

 

 

 

 

Peace: Let it begin with someone else…

Quote by Albert Einstein picture from WikiImages public domain

Quote by Albert Einstein
picture from WikiImages public domain


“Peace can become a lens through which you see the world. Be it. Live it. Radiate it out. Peace is an inside job.”
Wayne Dyer,Woman’s Day Magazine, Jun. 1, 2007

Peace….one of the aspects of Advent. In order to have peace, true peace, let us suspend some of our prejudices. Let us start with the words God, father, brother. If you let these words stop you cold and turn off your mind, you’ve already stopped the process of peace. You are letting Peace begin with someone else.

We all want peace but we can’t have it in ourselves, in our lives, in our homes, in the places we live, in the world until we open ourselves to it – until we clear our brains and hearts of words that stop us from listening to the thoughts of other people, to the beauty around us, to living in the moment instead of living in a small place called Prejudice.

it’s okay if you don’t believe in God of any kind. It’s perfectly fine if you’d rather say Sister, Mother, Goddess. As long as you say and live and promote peace, you are fine. And once you skip over all the gobblegook, psycho-babble, labels  – you come to the end of the road that says: The End. That’s it, the end. Turn around in a different direction. Open your mind and your heart. Share those dreams of peace. Start anew.

But…but…why can’t somebody do something about…..???? Why can’t YOU do something about….??? Until peace truly begins within, it can’t spread to others. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with…..ME.

Blessings to you all.  Let there be peace on earth and goodwill to all.

The Smell of Home: A true Christmas story

a slice of sweet potato pie

a slice of sweet potato pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE:  I originally posted this in 2012.  We all have stories and memories that are part of the fabric of our lives.  This is one of those stories.  It happened about 10 years ago on a cold, sleety day in December as I was making my way to be with my mama for Christmas.

 

I’m sorry.  This might be a little long for some of you, but I hope you will read.  I was born and raised in the South and except for occasional sojourns on Long Island, Philadelphia, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco, I have lived in the South.  I grew up in a neighborhood close to the Duke east campus.  People had lived there in the same homes for generations.  We knew each other, knew all the stories about each others’ ancestors, who had converted their sleeping porches and when and when finally (we were among the last) who sold their portion of the mews and sent their last horse to live with relatives in the country.

In 1965, the impossible happened – the Pollard family next to us, finally died out.  The house was sold to strangers – maybe even folks from up North!!!  Of course, if they were connected to Duke, it might be okay.  Imagine everyone’s surprise when an African-American family moved in.  Well, nobody moved from the neighborhood or did any nastiness; after all, that Greek family had moved in a couple of streets over and nothing bad had happened.  In fact, they organized block parties and gave away thousands of Christmas cookies!!!

The McGill family consisted of the father Richard, his wife Arlene and sons – Junior (my age) and Bob. Mr. Mc and my dad became instant and best friends.  The two sons kept to themselves and Mrs. Mc considered us all a bunch of jumped up no accounts because after all, she was descended of long standing upper class Creole families in N’awlins, so there!

About three weeks before the McGill’s first Christmas in Trinity Park, the neighborhood was permeated with the most delicious, spicy, mouth watering odor.  It was slightly familiar, but better – richer and headier.  I took it upon myself to go through the hedge and knock on the McGill’s back (kitchen) door.  Mr. Mc himself answered and greeted me with a huge smile and welcome on in.  I looked in amazement – covering every surface in the kitchen and the dining room beyond, were sweet potato pies.  The kitchen was warm from the ovens (like us, he had two stoves – a gas and a wood burner).  My eyes were huge and I looked at him and without having to ask, he said, “Sweet potato pies. Every year, our church has a fund raiser to provide clothing, food, toys, rent, whatever for the needy in our parish.  I bake 100 pies for sale and I do that because I bake the best. I am the king of sweet potato pies.”

“Here’s one that is a little ugly and I was going to cut a slice and have with a cup of coffee. Want some?”  “Yes sir, I surely do.” and we proceeded to sit and eat and chat.  I discovered why my dad just loved him – funny, erudite, gentle, kind, generous….I fell in love with himself.  “That is THE best sweet potato pie I have ever had. How do you make it?”  His eyes twinkled at me and said, “Won’t tell you, it’s a secret.”  And from then until I left for college, sweet potato pie and coffee became a yearly tradition with us.  Sometimes we were joined by Junior who like his dad, was quite a cook.  Like his dad, big, gentle, kind, and funny.

Years later, I was living in Philadelphia.  One morning, I received a call from my mother.  My papa was in hospital and it was not going to be good.  I dropped everything and caught the first flight home.  All the way, I was  truly a wreck.  I jittered in my seat, bit my nails, thought about a future that did not include my father.  I wondered who would pick me up from the airport.  Papa always did.  I came to the baggage area and there was Mr. Mc waiting for me.  when I saw him, I began crying and he folded his big self around me and held me tight.  We grabbed my bag and went to the car.  In the car, as he was driving me home, he handed me his handkerchief and said, “Let me tell you how I make my sweet potato pie. But remember, it’s a secret and you can’t tell.”

My father died. I don’t remember much about the events of the days.  I choose not to.  Hidden in a blur of an unmended heartbreak, those memories will remain that way.

One thing I have learned in past years, is this:  Don’t fight with God. He always wins.  And when he tells you to do something, don’t argue, just do it and save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and stupid. More years later:  I was driving down a lonely stretch of Rt. 360 to go visit my mom.  It was a bleak, wet sleety day.  On the side of the road, a black van was pulled over with the hood up.  Two huge men were standing beside the van looking into the bowels of the vehicle and looked up hopefully as I drove past.  God says “Go back and help them.”  and of course, I argued.  it’s desolate, I don’t know them, they’re big, blahblahblahblah.  God says, “Go back and help them.”  and He said this several times.  About two miles down the road, I pulled over and just gave up.

“Alright already. I’ll do it.  But I’m just going to put my window down a bit and ask if they need help.”  God says, “Whatever. Go back.” I u-turned and headed back.  I pulled beside the van and inched my passenger window down.  The largest man leaned down and looked in the window.  Suddenly, he said, “Kanzen?”   I looked closer – “Junior?”.  Immediately I unlocked my car door and he climbed in.  “We need help. I’m on my way to Clarksville to preach a funeral and the van just stopped.  I can’t get a call through either.”  No good coverage in that area…”I go right past that funeral home. Y’all get in and I’ll have you there shortly.”

As we rode to Clarksville, the associate pastor crammed into my small back seat and Junior with the passenger seat back as far as it would go and our shoulders touching each other like old friends.  We talked about the past years to catch up.  Mr. Mc had died two years earlier. I told Junior how grieved I was to hear this.  “y’know Kanzen.  it’s hard and this time of year, it is just harder.  The house don’t smell right.  I know you understand.”  I nodded.  I did indeed understand.  “I’ve tried to fix those pies, but they aren’t right.  Mom lives with us now and she has talked about how she misses Dad. How she would love to smell one of his pies, just one more time.”

I sat in silence for a couple of miles.  I thought of my papa.  I thought of Mr. Mc and his grieving son beside me.  I smiled and though I had tears in my eyes, I turned to him.  “Junior, I know how to make your dad’s pie.  He told me when papa died.  I’ll tell you, but it’s a secret. You can’t tell anyone.”  and I began to tell him the secret of Mr. Mc’s sweet potato pie.

A couple of weeks later, I received a note in the mail.  “The house smells like home.  The home smells right.  God bless you.  Merry Christmas.”

And no, I’m not going to tell you.  It’s a secret.  Merry Christmas and God bless you. May your home be filled with love and joy and making of memories for your heart.

All the earth rejoice – It’s Christmas

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One of the candles for advent is Joy.  This is not your average Christmas video.  I like it because it is so happy and makes me want to dance, even when my heart is heavy or I feel overwhelmed with commercialism.  Why I celebrate Christmas.

“Born unto us this day a Saviour
Gifted from heaven to a manger
The hope of the world
A light for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas”

Hillsong, Scott Ligerwood, Matt Crocker

Friday Fun…Spontaneous Acts of Grocery Aisle Dancing.

My husband and I love to dance. We are big on ballroom dancing and we really like it when we can indulge in spontaneous acts of dance.

Several years ago, we were both of us tired out from a mutually hard day at work and both of us had worked after hours. We stopped at a local grocery chain to pick up a few necessary items. The store was almost empty. We were moseying down an aisle just sort of in a tired trance. At one end of the aisle was a hugely pregnant woman looking at cereal. Her husband was at the opposite end of the aisle looking at protein bars. The muzak was ubiquitous as usual but then, out of the blue, Every Breath You Take, began drifting around us. The man came sashaying down the aisle as if we were invisible. Within a few feet of his wife, he held out his arms and began crooning, “Come to me, my melon belly baby”. She went to him and he enfolded her and they began to waltz slowly to the music.

My husband and I stood entranced. The couple was not even vaguely self-conscious. When the song ended, they continued with their shopping and went down the next aisle. My husband and I were delighted and no longer tired. When the muzak version of Shake Your Booty started up, we were in the cleaning products aisle, all by ourselves. We looked at each other and in a blink, we were quick stepping up and down the aisle.

This has become a regular thing with us now. The last act of aisle dancing was last month, in another grocery, at 9:00 am in the morning. A couple of people were in the aisle with us, but we had plenty of room to Mambo to “Love is in the Air” – a favorite and even on Muzak, a darned good dance number. After a moment, a woman and her little girl joined us – twirling and bouncing with much laughter.  We so love dancing and especially with each other.  Ballroom dancing is a vital part of our romance with each other.  Tango, Paso Doble, Mambo, Waltz….each dance an expression of love and joy in each other.  And the spontaneous dance – I wish more people did these spontaneous acts of love and fun.

“Love is in the Air” is one of our favorites and is on a regular rotation in our Kitchen/Ballroom.  We stopped worrying about people thinking we were crazy long ago.  Love is in the air, in the grocery aisle, in the hardware store, in Walmart, in the apothecary, in the parking lot…

Love is in the air everywhere I look around – Love is in the air every sight and every sound – And I don’t know if I’m being foolish – I don’t know if I’m being wise – But it’s something that I must believe in – And it’s there when I look in your eyes. . . . (songwriters, Pennington/Lemaire, Performed by Paul Young). The dance sequence is from one of our favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom.

So again I say to you, let’s dance!

 

Make Every Moment Count

300px-Peach_Glow_water-lily_at_Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden[1]

We do not remember days,
We remember moments.

Cesare Pavese

Photo courtesy of Wiki Free Images

Easter Memories and blessings

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Easter was a special day for us. Bright and early, we would all get up and go to Sunrise Service – there to hear the joyous news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead gave to us the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life – that light overcame darkness and sadness changed to joy.

Then we would go to regular services to hear the good news again. Afterwards, we would have a big Sunday dinner and usually, we had company – aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. After feasting and still in our spiffy Easter clothing, we would pile into a couple of cars and go for a walk at the Sarah P. Duke Memorial Gardens attached to Duke University. In the spring, the gardens are incredible in their beauty. The Gardens were about three blocks from our home and often, as a child, I confused it with being “our” gardens because I often ran there to walk among the beautiful flowers, to dream beside huge koi ponds, to slowly walk through the Japanese garden and when it was time, to sniff at the hundreds of rose plants, and later in fall, to stroll among the fall flowers and colored foliage and then in winter, to silently walk among the sleeping garden – often under a blanket of pure snow.

After walking through the gardens with other visitors, we would go to the Royal Ice Cream company. It was take out only. Royal made rich ice cream daily with seasonal favorites. My favorite two were the lemon custard and the cherry blossom – the cherry blossom ice cream was a delicate vanilla ice cream filled with thousands of pieces of maraschino cherries. I have yet to find anything to top Royal ice cream. Maybe it was really that good or maybe it is memories of such happy times. whichever, doesn’t matter.

But I hope your Easter has been filled with many blessings and that you have been able to be and share your love with those you love. the photographs in the slide show are not mine. But please have a walk through a part of happy days in my past. I hope you replay the slideshow while enjoying a bowl of your favorite ice cream.

God Bless You All and Joy to you. Jesus has risen. Jesus has risen indeed!

My Words for 2014

Every year, I meditate and pray and then my words for coming year come and I use them to live in the next year. This year my words are: Choice, Joy, and No Fear.

I will choose to live my life with Joy and No Fear. The choices I make will have to do with Joy and No Fear. The choices I make will hopefully allow me to live a life of kindness, courtesy, curiosity, health.

Last year was a year full of events that caused me much fear and anxiety, depression, pain. Some I could control and others I could not. I am going to exercise my faith muscle. I do believe in a God that loves me and renews His faithfulness and love to me daily. I will choose to have more faith, more trust, I will listen to that Holy Spirit in me that whispers it is always close and there for me. I will work on that relationship of love and trust and in turn, have less fear and more joy.

I will treasure each moment and person I love. Oddly, it was a dog that led me to this, or rather, her person. I follow the blog, Rumpydog (http://wp.me/p1GPpQ-2D9) . DeDe, one of the dogs, has cancer. Her human is having a hard time with this and trust me, I understand this totally. My beloved Pugsley cat and I went through this a few years ago and it still makes me cry. I miss his sweet self. I try to be the person he always thought I was.

But anyway, Sundays, DeDe gives beauty tips. That sweet dog says, the best beauty accessory is a smile. She also said her resolve for 2014 was to live each day to the fullest because you never know how much time you have. And she is right. I’m probably too tender hearted in these things, but it makes me cry for her and for her human. And she is right.

My mom is not doing well. COPD, old age…it is scary and makes me feel like I will soon be an orphan. We never know from one breath to the next how much time we have in this life and with people we love. I lost two dear friends this year – cancer and suicide. I am still reeling from this and working through it.

So I choose to live my life full of joy. I can’t go about fearing the next moment or event. Passion, joy, excitement, curiosity. Smelling a rose, watching a robin pulling a worm out of the ground, the mental pleasure of making an A on a Quantum Mechanics course, doing the Quick Step with my husband down the hall, rubbing the sweet face of my Sam the Ripper Cat, hearing my mother’s voice on the phone. All of this and more.

What we have in this life if we choose it: grace, joy, hope, faith. I open my arms to 2014. Here’s to a year of living joyously: frying chicken, writing bad haiku and loving it, breathing in sweet winter air, tracking the progress of the flowering quince bush, smiling at babies sitting in grocery carts, being gente with elderly folks on the phone when they call for information at my job, trying to steer my teen Sunday class through the paths of righteousness, sharing my love of life and joy, being sentimental and not ashamed to feel, to making new friends, to letting my heart choose those friends rather than conventional wisdom, trying to be a loving and loyal friend, daughter, wife, woman….to continuing to blog and never getting Freshly Pressed and never having more than 300 followers which is fine because I’m okay but you folks are even better, to having a year of dreams and maybe one day…maybe sitting on the viewing platform at Ryoan-ji in the snow once again, to never having my heart closed to love…

What are your words for 2014? What are your dreams? What do you want? Face your fears – take your passion and make it happen. This is your now.

 

 

Born is the King – It’s Christmas by Hillsong

This has been MY song this Christmas season – it’s joyful, it’s fun, it’s true.  It’s one of those songs I crank up in my car and shake the speakers and make the windows rattle.

I had another singing at the moon fit last night.  I stood on my back steps, gazing out into the darkness and around my sleepy little neighborhood.  Oh yeah.  I started rocking, and clapping and let loose with this one.  If this one doesn’t make you smile, come visit me and we’ll talk and eat Christmas cookies, candy canes, and red and green M&M’s.  I think in a bit, you’ll be on those steps with me, singing your heart out.  A king is born, it’s Christmas.  Forever and ever, halleluia!  God bless you, every one.

Born unto us this day a Savior
Gifted from heaven to a manger
The hope of the world
A light for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It�s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Winter Moon and Halleluia Chorus!!!

Andre Rieu is one of my favorite conductors. He conducts with such joy and passion! Tonight as I was gazing at the winter moon – so huge and luminous in the black sky, I thought back to that night in Bethlehem, long ago – and then I thought back even farther to that incredible prophecy of the Messiah to come. I could not stop myself – I stood on my back steps, flung out my arms and sang this.

The clip of Andre Rieu conducting and the chorus is much better. His words at the beginning are like a prayer for all of us – hope and joy to all. Since I’m only 4″10′, you can’t see me – but I am over behind the harpist doing cartwheels in pure joy at this music.. It never ceases to bring me to my feet with a feeling that I can well and truly fly.

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